The first half of "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" required as much focus and attention as "Winter Is Coming." The exposition happened often and fast. New characters were introduced. Sprawling back stories were delivered in minute detail. But then, the clouds broke and the second half of the episode continued the excellence that "Lord Snow' promised for the rest of the season. The exposition will never completely stop in the show because of the immense story in A Song of Fire & Ice. Benioff, Weiss, and Cogman nor would I want the exposition to cease because it's one of the most important parts of the show. The way in which Benioff and Weiss wove exposition throughout the previous three episode paid off in the second half of this episode. The story grabbed me and I kept looking at the clock, hoping for the hour to extend so the episode wouldn't end. That, friends and well-wishers, is the sign of a great series.
The episode opens with a dream. Bran's walking around Winterfell, with a bow and arrow, when he notices a black raven and begins to follow the bird. Ravens are messengers in Westeros, trusted to carry important messages to the other kingdoms. Bran follows the bird into a barn before he wakes up and is carried to his brother Robb with Theon Greyjoy by his side (more on the Greyjoys later). Tyrion Lannister, along with the man from The Wall, have a dialogue with Robb about where they'll reside during their stay in Winterfell. Once Bran comes in, Tyrion tells the 10 year old about a horse he can ride as a cripple--specially designed for Bran's specific specifications. Tyrion has a special place in his heart for cripples, bastards and broken things because he, after all, is known as only a dwarf or an imp.
Indeed, in "The Kingsroad," Tyrion expressed sympathy and concern towards Bran--and a particular interest in his fate. This interest seemingly stemmed from empathy towards the child; however, Littlefinger identified the murder weapon as the property of Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion had already made it clear that he knows far more about his brother and sister's behavior than anyone. While I doubt Tyrion hired the assassin to kill Bran, his arrest at the end of this episode will splinter relations even more between the Starks and the Lannisters. Splinter is too kind a word. Catelyn's action will severe the bonds between the Lannisters and King Robert and hasten bloodshed. Ned and Cersei shared a loaded scene in his office in which Cersei offers false apologies for the extreme actions she took against Sansa's wolf. The scene's buttoned by the promise of both characters to kill their enemies. Cersei, in particular, shoots daggers at Ned. Tensions have mounted between the two families. Cat's impulsive action will have consequences. Her husband's in a very vulnerable place in King's Landing, surrounded by enemies, with only one man he trusts completely. Tyrion's arrest is only a small pebble from the looming avalanche and I can't wait to see how the story unfolds.
Beyond the major plot point of the episode, its title reflected its theme. Anyone not considered legitimate royalty's considered scum. Jon Snow's at The Wall because he's a bastard. His compatriots are unwanted. A fat man named Sam came to join the Night's Watch because his father disowned him, threatened to kill him if he found his son in the woods without a horse. Cripples and bastards share a common broken-ness. Whereas Bran's broken in spirit and in body, the bastards and people like Sam suffer from alone-ness and a broken heart. The Night's Watch need to be bonded by something. If not their ability to fight and bear the impending winter, it's their broken-ness that will unite them. Jon takes pity on Sam and becomes his friend. Jon convinces the other men to pity Sam. The tenderness and pity disgusts Ser Alliser Thorne. Later, when Jon and Sam bond and have actual fun, Thorne interrupts to promise the two of them certain death when winter comes, through a magnificent monologue, because they're boys used to fires and warmth in the miserable winter. Thorne tells Sam that he'll only be used as food when they move beyond The Wall.
One of the most prominent themes in the series thus far is empowering those without power. Tyrion's the smartest character in the show. Snow's noble and full of potential to lead his ragtag group of criminals and cowards into the dangers that exist beyond The Wall. Little Arya tells her father that she doesn't want to become queen who bears sons who become knights because that's not Arya. She's the opposite of her sister Sansa, who only wants to become Joffrey's wife and queen. Arya and Daenerys are the lone two feminists on the show, and they're among the younger female characters--not a coincidence. Arya wonders if Bran can become a Knight of the Night's Watch, even though he can't walk. Ned's doubtful but I am not. I expect anything from Game Of Thrones. What's the point of basing a story on medieval Europe if nothing will change?
But there are reminders of the reality for these characters. For Jon, it's Thorne's monologue. For Tyrion, it's Cat's swift action against him in the pub. For Arya, it's the death of Hugo the Knight. As glorious as Knighthood is, as revered and as romanticized in her mind, the older brother of The Hound quickly killed the promising knight. Sansa even receives a reality check. Royalty's not all beauty. As princess and queen, she'll witness many more gruesome deaths because her husband will want to be entertained.
As for Daenerys, she's the Khaleesi, the wife of the great Khal Drogo, and the future mother of his child. Viscerys tries to assert his power and authority over his sister but she strikes back and threatens to remove his hand should he strike her again. Daenerys and Jorah share a conversation about their desire to return home as well as their doubts regarding Viscerys' ability to lead a Doth raki army. Daenerys possesses the power to return home if she wants, and Jorah suggests she could become Queen because the common people aren't waiting for Viscerys. This is getting good.
The whole damn series is getting really, really good.
-Theon Greyjoy's scene with Tyrion had much more information than I anticipated. What I gathered is, he comes from a great family like the Starks and Lannisters but the Greyjoys lost their power and influence when they were defeated in an uprising or revolt. Now, Theon's stuck working for Robb Stark. His family ruled the Iron Lands, forged the Iron Throne and The Red Keep (whatever the hell that is). That sums up my understanding of his back story. Before that, I thought he was a Stark son. The more you know, eh?
-Littlefinger's story about The Hound and The Mountain confused me because I didn't understand why he piled on Sansa as Hugh lay mere feet from her dying in a gruesome finish. Why does a 13 year old girl need to know what Gregor did to his brother's face? Littlefinger as character, thus far, eludes me. The devoted fandom love the character though so I just have to wait.
-King Robert's certaintly not a sympathetic king. He makes Jaime stand outside his room while he fornicates with numerous whores. Between this scene and last week's scene, it's not hard to wonder why Jaime and Cersei want to kill Robert. Mark Addy was tremendous during the jousting scene. It reminded me of Rip Torn in Freddy Got Fingered. I guarantee I'm the only one who will ever mention Freddy Got Fingered in a Game Of Thrones review.
-Bryan Cogman wrote the episode. Brian Kirk directed it.
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